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Election planning begins, despite lack of hopefuls

Elections Chair Steve Habeger displays an example of the voter ballot envelope during the Friday, April 12 meeting at the Ocean Pines Administration

By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer

(April 18, 2019) With the May 10 candidate filing deadline three weeks away, this year’s Ocean Pines elections has yet to generate much interest beyond that of the community’s election officials.

During the Elections Committee meeting last Friday, members acknowledged the dearth of candidates for the three open seats on the board of directors, as well as the absence of the candidate search committee.

Even though the contest is for three slots, the bylaws require at least two more candidates than the minimum.

“We should have two more candidates than are needed for slots to fill,” Elections Committee Chairman Steve Habeger said. “We have three full, three-year positions to fill on the board in this coming election. We expect to, no later than June 1, get a letter from the board of directors’ secretary telling us who the candidates are.”

The candidate Search Committee, which is usually appointed by the board in February, has just two people and has yet to be formed officially, Habeger said.

In June, once the candidates are announced, the committee draws names for ballot position. Candidates pick them up randomly and receive their ballot order. The candidates then enter a workshop, where they are provided a list of topics and what to expect.

In the meantime, all the Elections Committee can do is take care of its own responsibilities, which includes creating the final draft of the candidates’ letter and setting a timetable for voting.

Public Relations Director Denise Sawyer said the public should be advised of when on Aug. 7, the final day of voting, ballots will no longer be accepted.

“Some folks may think it’s at the close of business, as opposed to at midnight. When are we expecting to pull the ballot box out?”

A decision was made to have the deadline at 5 p.m. and to be sure that information is made clear on ballot envelopes and other material.

The committee also addressed issues pertaining to absentee votes or invalid votes. The numbers have decreased significantly, with 41 voided votes two years ago and only four voided votes last year.

One of the methods suggested to get people to vote correctly was to create a “Good Voter, Bad Voter” video.

“We could do a mock-up YouTube on where you put the ballot in the building and put it out on the website,” board of directors liaison Steve Tuttle said.

Should no one file for candidacy by the deadline, the decision will be given to the board of directors to appoint three new members as a last resort.